Prescription drugs addiction warning

Date published: 04 February 2009

CAMPAIGNERS have stepped up pressure on the Government to get more help for patients who become addicted to prescription or over-the-counter drugs.

The All Party Parliamentary Group on Involuntary Drug Abuse is hammering the message home with a week-long campaign in Westminster.

Chairman Jim Dobbin MP said: “We need to keep raising awareness about the damage the addiction causes to the 1.5 million sufferers across the UK.

“It can destroy lives, it is very painful and a real problem. And it causes more people to claim benefits as, inevitably, they cannot work. It would be so much more efficient for the Government to invest in withdrawal treatment centres like the one in Oldham.

“If the Government does this, then people can get their lives back.”

Last month, a report by the group said more research into addictions caused by over-the-counter or prescription drugs was needed.

Oldham East and Saddleworth MP Phil Woolas wrote to Health Secretary Alan Johnson saying involuntary addiction to drugs such as Valium, codeines and over-the-counter pain killers is already causing untold damage and could get worse in the economic downturn.

It warned drug treatment services are not geared to help individuals with a dependency and called for medical students and nurses to be trained to recognise the symptoms.

Local campaigner Barry Haslem, who lost 10 years of his life to benzodiazepine addiction, has repeatedly raised awareness of the dangers in Westminster.